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The Climate Crisis and Food Insecurity are Inherently Linked writes Laura Karpodinis

Laura Karpodinis from the Soil Association reflects on COP26, the climate emergency, and how environmental sustainability and community food engagement are key to feeding the planet.

With COP26 having come to an end, the climate crisis is high in people’s minds. This week, the Bristol Local Food Fund explores how the changing climate and its side effects will affect long-term access to good, nutritious food.

Every aspect of food production is linked to the planet, from its growth and processing, to its transport and consumption. According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (1), food supply per person has increased by around 30% since the 1960s, along with large increases in the uses of fertilizers, pesticides and fresh water used for irrigation. They note that over 800 million people are undernourished, and on the other side, more than 2 billion are overweight or obese. The food system is in a state of crisis due to stressors like population, income growth, demand for animal products and climate change.

The changing global climate means increasing temperatures, changing and unpredictable precipitation patterns, a decline in soil conditions and more extreme weather occurrences. These factors affect how much food can be grown, as well as the quality of that food.

As soil quality declines due to overfarming and overuse of fertilizers, less nutrients are taken up by the food grown in it, thus having less nutritional value than it should. When unpredictable weather patterns hit, it’s very difficult for farmers to know when and what to grow, meaning various foods could become increasingly difficult to get ahold of. The UK imports about 85% of its vegetables (2) from the EU and the rest of the world, meaning trade issues and foreign growing climates highly affect the food that we in the UK consume.

As food procurement issues worsen, those who are already struggling with food insecurity will likely be unable to cope. There is already research that suggests that food security and climate change have stronger gender and equity dimensions (1), supporting research conducted in Bristol on food insecurity, which points out that single parents, low-income families and other marginalised groups as being at far higher risk of food insecurity.

Despite the discussions at the COP26 conference, it is likely that the situation will keep getting worse. We need to plan now and support community food projects and other programmes that help those less privileged get access to good food as who knows, we might find ourselves in that spot in the future.

So whether or not we can count on our politicians, we know that we can count on each other.

So, in the spirit of think global, act local, support your local community by supporting the Bristol Local Food Fund crowdfunder. A fund by the people, for the people. Donate here today:

Further Reading;

  1. IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land- Food Security

  1. Data on vegetable imports to the UK by the Produce Marketing Association

  1. Soil Degredation; an intro by the Natural History Museum

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